Are you sitting comfortably? We are often invited to sit before we start to listen to a story.
Yet what is the use of a chair that cannot be sat upon? And what is the use of a life like Blodeuwedd‘s? Created for someone else, for the exercise of her free will, she was cursed, and turned into an owl.
The seat is inspired by the experience of the upholsterer in removing the coverings of an old chair. The older the chair, the more archaeological the experience becomes. This experience can be everything from grimy to lucrative but always educational. Different techniques and materials tell us about the chair’s history – some even contain time capsules for future craftspeople to discover.
Homage to Alan Garner’s The Owl Service
I have left most of the seat in its original state to show the skills of the last (and possibly original) upholsterer. In The Owl Service, published in 1967, Garner looked back at the ancient Blodeuwedd myth with modern eyes. We’re looking into the chair with modern eyes and some viewers will never have seen a chair in this sort of state, so there is a sense of adventure into the chair, as there is in The Owl Service as Garner ventures into the Blodeuwedd myth.
Included amongst the springs of the the chair are the spear of Gronw, the owl pendant and two small dishes. These are representative of the ancient artefacts pulled out of the tree by Huw Halfbacon near the end of the book, all of them with the simple owl face design Garner describes. You can also see Alison’s paper owls traced from the owl dinner service in the book’s title.
Also visible are the inner springing system, fixings for the feet and the counterweights necessary to prevent the chair from tipping backwards. In the same way we see how Garner knits the old myth with the new story of his imagination.
The feet were based on a wire armature, wrapped in polyester wadding to create the shape and layered with bandages of soft nylon net dipped in latex. The claws were made from Sugru.